As an agreement on opening up the Gaza - Egypt border crossing seems imminent, an IDF Intelligence officer says that there are warnings and threats to Israel's security from the current arrangement.
"The sticking points in our negotiations on the Rafah crossing are meaningful and important. With all respect to the Egyptians and the Palestinians, we can only trust ourselves, even if there are some European monitoring the place – he won't jump on Muhammad the minute he crosses and arrest him there. He won't even know who Muhammad is," said a senior IDF Intelligence officer, ahead of an agreement that will allow the opening of the Rafah crossing in southern Gaza, connecting Gaza to Egypt.
After long weeks of talks, a trip by Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz to Egypt, where he met President Mubarak, and nonstop American pressure, are about to pay off within the next twenty four hours, in the form of an agreement that will allow the opening of the crossing in southern Gaza.
The Palestinians say that Israel wants to continue to control the crossing from afar, and that Israel's demands undermine the disengagement from Gaza, by leaving signs of Israeli sovereignty in Gaza.
On Sunday, a Palestinian senior figure told Ynet that Israel insisted on receiving images of those crossing into and out of Gaza every eight to fourteen minutes.
"This is an attempt to humiliate us and to continue to control the passageway," said the source.
Aides to Mahmoud Abbas made the same complaint to Condoleezza Rice.
Talks between Mofaz and Palestinian minister Muhammad Dahlan didn't go well either, but despite all the hurdles, there are signs that a compromise will be reached in the coming hours that will be acceptable to all sides.
Other than third party monitoring, technology will be installed at the site that will enable tracking of those using the crossing.
The IDF Intelligence officer explained the complexities of the issue: "After we left Gaza, a mess remained on the Egyptian – Gaza border, on the Philadelphi Route. It was a free route for people and weapons, but this continued for four days and then ended."
"We certainly are seeing an effort being made by the Egyptians, an acceptable effort to deal with the border. They also uncovered a few tunnels in anti-smuggling operations, arrested smugglers, and got hold of some weaponry. There are some things to improve, but on the whole it's working well," he said.
"Now the Rafah Crossing is turning into a dangerous point. The people who could pass there are not righteous individuals or Nobel peace prize winners. The problem exists on both sides, both from the possibility of traffic of terrorists who left Gaza with an intention to enter Judea or Samaria, or Israel, to carry out attacks, and there are also suspicions that there will be infiltration attempts from Egypt into the Strip," the officer said.
"These are dangerous elements who will contribute from their experience to the terror infrastructures," he added.
The Intelligence officer said that the army had estimated which elements are capable of exploiting the crossing, if it remained open. He refused to comment on the list of suspects.
"There were those who already entered in the first four days – some exited. It's not yet fully clear how they will influence things," he added.
Despite complimenting the Egyptian's role in guarding the 14 kilometer-long Philadelphi Route, the officer expressed concern at what was happening in Sinai.
"A large quantity of arms is being piled up in Sinai in El-Arish. There are whole stockpiles there that are waiting to be smuggled into Gaza. Unfortunately, the Egyptians are not in control there," he said.
Ali Waked contributed to this report